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Sat Feb 8, 2014, 10:23 PM

Narco-Deforestation: Linking Drug Policy and Forest Conservation

Narco-Deforestation: Linking Drug Policy and Forest Conservation
February 8, 2014

The forests stretching from Mexico through Central America have some of the richest species diversity on the planet.

But despite expansive conservation efforts, this region continues to face staggering rates of forest destruction. While many of the overlapping forces driving this plight are well-documented — such as agribusiness expansion, weak governance and conflicting property regimes — there has been much less attention devoted to the environmental impacts from the region’s drug trafficking.

Drug routes affect deforestation rates

A new article published in the journal Science, co-authored by United Nations University researcher Dr. David Wrathall, provides compelling evidence that flows of drugs through the Americas are directly related to deforestation rates in North America’s most biodiverse and biosensitive region. The article, “Drug Policy as Conservation Policy: Narco-Deforestation” is the result of collaboration between researchers at the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and four US universities: The Ohio State University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Denver and the University of Idaho.

The article spotlights forest loss in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC), a cross-border initiative established in 1998 to link ecosystems and bio-conservation efforts in Mexico and Central America while promoting sustainable social and economic development. But the stakeholders and policy mechanisms that support these efforts are increasingly in conflict with drug trafficking organizations.


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